State of Origin question that left NSW coach Brad Fittler bristling

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Pictured here, NSW coach Brad Fittler speaks to media after State of Origin III.
NSW coach Brad Fittler didn't take kindly to a reporter questioning whether they picked the right halves for Game III. Pic: AAP

New South Wales coach Brad Fittler cut an annoyed figure after being questioned about his selections for the State of Origin Game III defeat against Queensland on Wednesday night.

Fittler's Blues missed the opportunity to wrap up their first series sweep since 2000 as the Maroons saved faced in a gutsy 20-18 win on the Gold Coast.

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Despite going down by two points in the finale, the 68-point margin across the three games between the teams is the biggest in Origin history.

However, it was clear in Game III that the absence of the Blues' regular halves pairing of Jarome Luai and Nathan Cleary had a significant impact on the team's attack.

The free-flowing and high-scoring footy that the Panthers pair helped orchestrate in the opening two matches was sadly lacking for Blues fans in Game III, with league legend Andrew Johns admitting the attack looked "disjointed" throughout the contest.

Fittler decided to pick Raiders star Jack Wighton and Eels playmaker Mitch Moses in the halves, despite Souths teammates Cody Walker and Adam Reynolds presenting a formidable case for selection.

When asked by a reporter after the match whether the Blues had gotten the selection call wrong, the NSW coach was less than impressed.

“No, I thought Mitchell Moses had the kick for the (Apisai Koroisau) try ...Jack Wighton scored a try ... so I’m not sure where your argument is,” Fittler shot back at the reporter.

“I thought they were great. I thought Mitchell Moses’ defence was great.

“They threw a lot at him ... a lot of it was under fatigue. But I thought Mitchell’s defence was outstanding and Jack Wighton’s. There’s always two sides to a game.”

Seen here, Jack Wighton dives over for a second half try for the Blues in Game III.
Jack Wighton crossed for a second half try for the Blues in Game III. Pic: Getty

Blues captain James Tedesco also praised his halves pairing after injuries to Luai and Cleary saw them thrown in at the deep end during a must-win game for Queensland's shattered pride.

"The team we have, the squad we've got as well, we've got a lot of depth," Tedesco said.

"Obviously we're missing our two halves and we got two halves that came in and did a really good job for us.

"I think NSW is in a really good place. So that's exciting for the next few years to build our team, to have others come through and put pressure on different spots is really good."

Blues coach slams 'dodgy' officiating

Fittler was unhappy with the officiating in Game III after Queensland enjoy a lopsided number of set restarts in the first half and benefited from a contentious moment in the build-up to one of Ben Hunt's two tries for the Maroons.

“There was a few decisions I thought were pretty dodgy, I wasn’t happy with,” Fittler said.

“I thought the Ponga one on the right-hand side before the try, I thought that was a knock-on. I thought before the goal kick Latrell got pushed in the back.

“I haven’t seen the replay but when I first saw the knock-on I thought that was an obvious call.”

The win, however, provided Queensland with renewed hope that they can reclaim the State of Origin shield in next year's series.

Maroons' skipper Daly Cherry-Evans was proud of how his team responded after being widely criticised for their culture and effort following their games one and two humblings.

"We showed ourselves that they're very beatable," Cherry-Evans said.

"I know they did a fantastic job the first two games, you've got to give them credit for that, but we showed that we are a Queensland side that can take it to the Blues.

"They've won the series but that was a blueprint right there on how to play an Origin game. It's a real credit to everyone involved this week."

with agencies

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